NRA and ACLU Teaming up on the First Amendment in NRA v. Vullo

Gun Rights

I’m delighted to report (as Adam Liptak wrote in today’s New York Times) that the ACLU will be representing the NRA in this important First Amendment case, and that the ACLU’s Legal Director David Cole—an experienced Supreme Court advocate—is (the Times notes) planning on arguing.

The issue in the case is whether New York financial regulatory authorities coerced banks and insurance companies to cut off ties with the NRA and thus violated the First Amendment. As the petition argued,

The Second Circuit’s opinion below [rejecting the First Amendment claim] gives state officials free rein to financially blacklist their political opponents—from gun-rights groups to abortion-rights groups to environmentalist groups and beyond.

Cole’s presence at the lectern and the ACLU’s presence on the briefs will help convey the core message to all the Justices: The case is about everyone’s free speech rights, not just the NRA’s. Cole has argued six cases before the Court, all connected to the First Amendment, most recently Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. (2021). Mahanoy was an 8-1 decision, and I hope NRA v. Vullo will be 9-0.

Note that I consulted with William Brewer, Sarah Rogers, and Noah Peters of Brewer Attorneys & Counselors on the petition, and look forward to consulting further with them and with Cole (with whom I’ve much enjoyed working in the past) on the merits briefs.

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